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Girl, 15, Seen Kidnaped Is Found Safe


VAN NUYS — A 15-year-old Grant High School student, whose family and schoolmates reported her kidnaped by a former boyfriend as she emerged from school, was found by police Friday calmly being interviewed by a TV reporter at the side of her alleged captor.

The 22-year-old former boyfriend was arrested anyway on suspicion of kidnaping, and the girl was returned to her mother.

There was no doubt that Rolando Antonio Perez, the alleged kidnaper, used force in abducting Veronica Carmen Orantes, said Los Angeles Police Detective Mel Arnold.

Initially, Veronica told the television reporter that she had not been kidnaped, but later acknowledged to detectives that she had been, police said. "We have eyewitnesses who saw the incident, who saw the amount of force used and saw her reaction," Arnold said. "She did not go willingly."

Veronica's mother, Maria Alvarado, and two other students saw the girl being pulled into a car outside the school as classes ended Thursday and reported the incident to an assistant principal, who called police, said Grant Principal Eve Sherman.

Schoolmates and relatives told police that Perez and Veronica, both of North Hollywood, had broken up about two months ago after dating for more than a year and that Perez had stalked her since then.

She had complained to campus police that Perez "was bothering her," and the report was relayed to the LAPD, Sherman said. The city attorney's office also had a complaint on file against Perez, that he had pushed a girl at the school, a spokesman said, and a hearing is pending.

Two dozen police officers, most of whom searched through the night for Veronica, got a break Friday morning. Two detectives distributing flyers with information on the abduction happened to follow a television news truck into a liquor store parking lot in Studio City where they discovered Veronica and Perez waiting to be interviewed.

"There stood Veronica and Mr. Perez," Arnold said. "The rest is history . . . news at 11."

Veronica had arranged to meet with a reporter from the television station after being told by friends that the station was broadcasting a report that she had been abducted, Arnold said.

Perez was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bail and prosecutors are expected to decide early next week whether to bring charges against him.

Alvarado said Perez had hidden her daughter in an apartment near Oxnard Street and Whitsett Avenue, near the liquor store where the two later showed up.

"Right now I'm happy, but I'm scared for her," said Alvarado. She added that she now has protection for her daughter, apparently referring to a temporary restraining order that police obtained from a judge against Perez.

Veronica was reunited with her mother and then questioned by police at the Van Nuys Division station. As Veronica left the station late Friday afternoon, she told reporters that she had not been harmed, but that Perez had attempted to kidnap her as she left school on a previous occasion.

"It happened before, like two weeks ago," Veronica said. "It happened again, only this time worse."

She said she was not harmed in this incident, but "he was very mad."

"He was telling me I couldn't go home and I couldn't do anything about it," she added. "I had to stay with him, I couldn't get to the phone."

Arnold said it is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to be as young as Veronica, noting that instances of abuse occur more frequently when there is a large age gap between the victim and her abuser.

Students were buzzing Friday about the alleged kidnaping. Several students, who said they knew Veronica well, said she talked often about her older boyfriend, showing pictures of herself with him. But they also knew that the relationship had ended and that she was angry with him.

"She told me they broke up and that she didn't want him back--but then again you never know," said Lusine Baregamyan, 16, who sits next to Veronica in science class. "She said they broke up because he was cheating on her."

Times staff writers Nicholas Riccardi and Julie Tamaki contributed to this story.

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